Dealing with Difficult Encounters

Black Pagan

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What are some ways you can think of dealing with Difficult Encounters ?

What i mean by this is, The Enemies being on almost the same level of Stats as the Player or a Higher level. In this case, There needs to be some options for the Player to consider to come up with a result other than an outright Game over.

How can you think of making these options more interesting other than the default options available in RPG Maker ?

Here is an idea i considered - Making some kind of an interesting way of using "Flee" Command in Battles. It should't feel like you merely escaped the Battle, The action of fleeing a Battle should directly reflect your Skill / Effort in some way, that ought to make the Player feel like they were responsible for their own fate.
 
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Milennin

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For my current project, as well as an older game I made, I just avoid Game Overs altogether. If the player party dies, they are sent back to the nearest checkpoint with some extra HP/MP than they had when they went into their last encounter, so they should have it a bit easier if they decide to retry again right away.
Game Overs are far too risky, since there's always players who forget to save.
 

NinjaKittyProductions

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What are some ways you can think of dealing with Difficult Encounters?
What I mean by this is, The Enemies being on almost the same level of Stats as the Player or a Higher level. In this case, there need to be some options for the Player to consider to come up with a result other than an outright Game over.
Give the players some form of enemy hindrance. Such as the ability to poison, stun, paralyze, weaken. Giving the player that ability to apply status effects during a difficult fight would help to introduce a type of strategy into the battle scenes.

How can you think of making these options more interesting other than the default options available in RPG Maker?

Here is an idea I considered - Making some kind of an interesting way of using "Flee" Command in Battles. It shouldn't feel like you merely escaped the Battle, The action of fleeing a Battle should directly reflect your Skill / Effort in some way, that ought to make the Player feel like they were responsible for their own fate.
You could also make the Guard skill more interesting. Have it heal HP and MP for a small amount. Have it give the player a buff that improves the overall damage of their next attack and/or defense action.

As for using the Flee command in an interesting way, have it where they automatically succeed in a flee if one of their party members stays behind, meaning that that party member dies so that the others can get away.
 

JojoLaVache

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How about allowing the escape option to be guaranteed on any battle, including bosses?

I got this idea from Chrono Cross, particularly a certain boss' infamous pre-battle boss banter. I won't give the details because it's a big spoiler, but long story short, the player had to sit through minutes of message boxes before facing a deceptively hard boss. However, if you run from this battle, the pre-fight cutscene will be skipped.
 

Tai_MT

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What are some ways you can think of dealing with Difficult Encounters ?

What i mean by this is, The Enemies being on almost the same level of Stats as the Player or a Higher level. In this case, There needs to be some options for the Player to consider to come up with a result other than an outright Game over.
Couple ways to tackle this. One of which I prefer in game design.

1. Escape works 100% of the time.
2. Create a combat system in which the stats actually don't matter all that much. If combat is more about overcoming a gimmick, then your stats can be nearly anything you want. If the only way you ever intend to balance your combat is "MOAR STATZ!", then your options are limited.

How can you think of making these options more interesting other than the default options available in RPG Maker ?
Here is an idea i considered - Making some kind of an interesting way of using "Flee" Command in Battles. It should't feel like you merely escaped the Battle, The action of fleeing a Battle should directly reflect your Skill / Effort in some way, that ought to make the Player feel like they were responsible for their own fate.
There are many options available if one simply has experience playing around with the Engine.

1. You don't need to always use one stat for attacking and one for defending. You can use multiple attack stats and multiple defenses. A monster with high Defense but low Luck might take more damage from skills that target Luck as a defensive stat. That is, if you design it that way.
2. Use your Elements system for this purpose. There is no reason you can't have exploiting a weakness do x2, x3, x10 more damage.
3. You can actually give your monsters different skillsets based upon your level if you want. Just have their skills check for a specific level threshold and then they get access to more powerful skills that utilize their stats better.
4. You can give your equipment on your characters some gimmicks or resists that make winning some combat encounters easier (like say, a specific boss encounter).
5. You could, theoretically, also have a "run" command that awards you money, loot, and xp based on enemies you took out before running. Though, I think you would have to heavily event this or probably use a plugin.
6. Create skills that don't necessarily require stats to operate well. You can do nearly anything you want as far as skill creation do. There are a myriad of skills you could employ to nullify stat advantages and avoid game overs.
 

watermark

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It is said good thieves always have a getaway route planned beforehand. What if this could be used in the game? Like say you have to activate some checkpoint before the boss, and if you did that, you can get away 100%. This has me thinking, what if there's a game designed so you have to run like half the time?
 

watermark

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Do you mean games with a pacifist option, like the Deus Ex games?
I've never played Deus Ex so I'm not sure what that is like.

But speaking of pacifist options, you remind me of Undertale, where you can talk your way out of fights. Now I think about it, there's also Shin Megami Tensei IV where you can end a fight by talking/bribing the enemy to join you.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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I believe there needs to be more depth in RPG battle mechanics than just stats, so if the battles are difficult or easy just because of the stats of the player and enemies, then I think there is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.

Difficulty, at least to some extent, should be dependent on the player's understanding of the mechanics at work. I think just pounding the enemies with attacks/skills should be always be a viable option, but in a sense that the battle becomes one of attrition, as in it's not the most viable option but still doable.

That being said, I think there should be some sort of 'puzzle' to be solved in order to end a battle (especially a boss battle) in an engaging way; some sort of weakness that can be exploited when discovered. For instance, the weakness could be a combination of skills and/or status effects the player uses, a particular order of actions that needs to take place, etc. I am a big fan of action RPGs, and other battle systems that take turn order into account, because timing can be a helpful tool in battle systems for the player and the dev. Making sure, as the player, you use skills at the right moment can make them more impactful; and there are probably hundreds of ways a dev can make timing significant.

I think players should be able flee in most cases, and if not, I am a fan of having the option to retry the battle before presenting a game over screen.
 

Aesica

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As someone who's hoping to have their game be all about difficult encounters, i figure I should probably chime in.

For starters, your battle system should probably have a bit of complexity to it beyond just two sides that take turns clubbing each other until one falls over dead. The more things you have going for your battle system (buffs, debuffs, covering/drawing attacks to protect weaker allies, cc, certain mechanics, hp thresholds, counters, etc to watch out for, special management for healing/items, etc) the easier it will be for players to make mistakes. Those mistakes should be where the encounter's difficultly comes from not "oh crap the boss just used Cheap Ass AoE Breath Attack for 3 turns in a row and now everybody's dead."

Basically, you want it to be something of a tug-of-war: The fight has these dangerous elements, but the player can counter them via anticipation/guarding, using certain equipment or buffs and such. If the player reflects back on a defeat and is like, "crap, I should've used ____" then you're doing it right. If however, they reflect back and think "that's cheap, there's no way I could've avoided that RNG crap" then...back to the drawing board!
 

bgillisp

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Adding weaknesses that if the player discovers them can result in some interesting battles. I did that in my game where there are a couple bosses where if the player is observant they can get out of the battle very quickly.

Here's a clip of a streamer playing my game where he did discover the weakness and got out of the battle fast. Notice his reaction to it too:

Code:
https://www.twitch.tv/hawkzombie/clip/AdventurousStormyVelociraptorSoonerLater?filter=clips&range=all&sort=time
I had to put it as code as the preview also loses all the key info and redirects you to the front page. But anyways, short version is I had it that robotic enemies were able to be one shotted by one skill, and when you fought a robotic enemy the game always played a tone. Hawk noticed the tone at the start of the battle and decided to see if it would still work on a boss and...it did.
 

Failivrin

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Some games improve Flee mechanics with an option for resource consumption. A thief/ninja character has a Flee skill that consumes MP. A doll or toy is dropped to distract the monster, but the item must be purchased from shops, which consumes gold. These options are 100% successful. They are available in addition to the standard Flee option, which consumes no resources but has a chance to fail.

A mechanic I really love but rarely see implemented is... Giving the player the ability to lower the encounter rate. For example, a monster-repellent item that works for a certain number of steps. I also like "field skills," a mechanic in which the player can change the party leader, and each character has a unique skill that activates in the overworld. In this case, a character could have a field skill that lowers the encounter rate when they are chosen as the party leader.

Another option is to concentrate the monsters in a specific area, such as tall grass or shadows, which they player can partially avoid.

PS- Except for field skills, all of these strategies are used to mitigate monster encounters in the Pokemon games. Pokemon also offers items that increase monster encounters or attract certain kinds of monsters in case the player wants to grind.

For situations in which the player can't or shouldn't avoid battles, some games give players skills based on disadvantage. For example, Pokemon can learn attacks that deal more damage if the player has a lower Speed stat (and thus takes the first hit) or if an ally was recently knocked out. Final Fantasy VII included attacks that only worked on enemies of a certain level. I recently replayed YS Seven, which has some neat equipment that refills MP when the player takes damage or increases Strength when HP is low. Drain skills, which heal by attacking, are also a big incentive for the player to fight rather than flee from a difficult battle.
 

Wavelength

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I'm definitely not against a microgame or similar that allows you to Flee if successful!

I also like Flee systems which interact with other combat mechanics. For example, I think there was a Tales game where you Flee by moving to the edge of the arena for a few seconds without being hit. Also, in Quest 64, as soon as you moved outside of the ring (that created the battle stage), the encounter ended immediately - even for boss fights!

For particularly difficult encounters, Visible Encounter systems can use the size, color, or menacing appearance of the enemy (or add other GUI effects like a big exclamation point) to indicate that it might be too powerful for the player. Some MMO's do this by changing the color of the enemy's name to (for example) red for an enemy that you probably can't beat, yellow for a challenging fight, and blue for an easy kill.

Of course, it should also be feasible to beat enemies that are theoretically more powerful than you are. The best combat systems allow for high skill expression (including strategic decisions), so that skillful play can even overcome a deficit in stats/levels. It feels great to take down a really tough monster by outsmarting or outplaying it!
 

CraneSoft

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I tend to lose my mind if I see myself getting kicked back to the title screen due to a game over without a chance to retry, so yes, do NOT include game overs as we are living in 2020 now, not the 90s. This way the absolute worst that can happen is restarting at a town without losing all the progress you've made at the dungeon after your last save. There needs to be a visual cue or information presented to the player before the fight, or before you take your first turn, so the player knows whether to tackle these difficult encounters or flee.

If you allow your character's actions to influence enemy behavior, you can create rather interesting battles where it is more about pragmatism, strategic planning, and resourcefulness to overcome a tough obstacle, instead of relying entirely on brute force. That giant orc enemy that can take my party out in a few hits under normal circumstances? I can just blind him and then wail on him while he swipes at empty air.

For fleeing, I make use of "anchored" enemies that will not allow you to escape when left alive (naturally, if you are surrounded by tough enemies, obviously you had to cut open an escape route yourself by killing/incapacitating the weakest in the pack) so players are actually responsible for their successful escape instead of relying on lame agility-based RNG in the default engine.
 

Wavelength

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@CraneSoft That sounds like a very fun and fair way to handle Escapes, in the scenario where the player feels outmatched. However, you also have to be very careful not to push a bored (or lost) player into too many battles that they're not having fun with, because essentially you are offering no immediate Escapes to the player who can handle combat just fine but isn't having fun with it.
 

CraneSoft

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@Wavelength That's only really a "anti-frustration feature" for specific ambush encounters where you might be overwhelmed (which originally I simply disabled the fleeing but felt it would be unfair) and is used to replace the default flee mechanics.
I also use visual encounters (so a player who didn't want to fight wouldn't initiate the battle anyways just to kill one enemy and escape and getting no EXP) and have a smoke bomb item that guarantees escape even in those situations. I personally prefer 100% escape rate myself when I actually wanted to flee, nevertheless it's there to discourage running away from every battle after having you know, touched a normal, non-difficult enemy on the map to initiate combat.
 

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